MONTREAL – Montreal police launched raids Friday evening against illegal cannabis stores opened one day prior by the self-styled “Prince of Pot,” Marc Emery, and his wife, Jodie.
Police said the operation was ongoing as of 6:30 p.m. and wouldn’t confirm if all six stores opened on Thursday were being targeted.
Local television outlets broadcast images of police taking away Marc Emery outside one of his stores in the city’s Plateau neighbourhood.
As he was being led by officers into a patrol car, Emery flashed a peace sign with his fingers and said: “It’s despicable and an injustice but we will win. The prime minister is a disgrace.”
Police would not immediately confirm if Emery was arrested.
A few hours earlier Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters in Montreal “until we’ve changed the law, the current laws exist and apply.”
Ottawa is moving “properly and responsibly,” to legalize marijuana, Trudeau said, but the current law governing cannabis will stand until new legislation is ratified.
“The reason we are legalizing and controlling marijuana is not for any other reason than to better protect our kids and to remove the black market, the criminal elements, organized crime, from profiting massively from the sale of cannabis,” he said alongside Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard.
“We will get this done properly and responsibly because that is what Canadians expect us to do. . and until we have changed the law, the current laws apply.”
The pot boutiques opened in Montreal in the presence of Emery and Jodie.
Jodie Emery told a news conference at one of the stores at Thursday’s opening that while they are illegal under current federal legislation, she hopes local authorities will leave them be.
Under store policy, anyone 19 and older will be able to buy marijuana, without membership or medical requirements. The shops will pay taxes, employ locals and won’t allow children inside.
Marc Emery, who calls himself the “Prince of Pot,” was extradited in 2010 to the United States, where he pleaded guilty to selling marijuana seeds and was sentenced to five years in prison.
“Anyone who enforces this despicable law is indeed a despicable person — and I include politicians, elected officials, police authorities and anyone else who thinks we should be arrested,” he said.
Ottawa is expected to table legislation in the spring to legalize marijuana, while a federal task force recommended earlier this week that sales be allowed to Canadians 18 years and older.